What do you guys use smart plugs for?

I kind of went a little crazy in the last few days and bought 6 HS110s (4x V2, 2x V1) and a HS300. I then started thinking about how to deploy them. I can think of a few use cases:

  1. Use them on “Always On” loads that will never be detected by Sense (no on-off cycles)
  2. Use them on devices that Sense has not been able to detect

What do you guys use them for? Is it worth putting one on an outlet with a small always-on load? What about a projector? Sense hasn’t been able to identify it so far, even though it gets used every day.

I put much of my Always On on the HS300, lets me turn off parts of the computer and stereo when I don’t need them. And the HS110s go on my Plasma and my Mitsubishi iMiev EV, these will NEVER be identified. Lets me schedule when the car charges AND how much charge it takes. The iMiev only has about 16kWh so 120v is plenty.

1 Like

My recommendation as someone who has about 30 devices on smart plugs (12 HS110s, and 3 HS300s).

  • Highest priority - Use smartplugs on larger usage devices that Sense is going to have difficulty with - I have on my washing machine and furnaces (gas-fired but plugin for the electric).
  • Next focus on high usage electronics - PCs, laptops, monitors, bigTVs, plus any other devices you suspect of having greater than 30W of consumption
  • Dedicate one HS110 to sampling the remaining electronic and other devices in your house. Look for the ones where you can glean the best long term info.
  • Use on modern electronics sparingly - not super useful to individually monitor a device with very low standby and active power (Apple TV = 2W standby, 6W active, cable amplifier varies between 4 and 8W). Given the locations of the HS300s, it’s expeditious to sample all the devices in the given location, but some are less interesting than others.

A bunch of hourly device power profiles from many of my smartplugs here.

https://community.sense.com/t/continuing-analysis-of-always-on-calculations/6785/2

2 Likes

I primarily use them to maintain my Always On. I have an HS300 on my entertainment center and I turn everything off there when not in use (except for my Apple TV, since it’s my Homekit hub). I then have a couple HS110s floating around, one for all my music studio gear, one for my desk (additional set of speakers, audio interface, computer, printer), one for my wife’s desk, and one for my workspace (soldering iron, more speakers). That all keeps my AO pretty well controlled.

Beyond that I use them for devices that Sense hasn’t detected but I want insights on, like my networking equipment (I guess you could also count this for AO), window fans, space heaters, and stuff like that.

1 Like

@kevin1 describes a larger scale version of my usage philosophy of 2 HS300s, 4 Wemos, with 6 HS110s on the way. Some notes:

  • I have Sense#2 CTs monitoring hot water & AC. The HW circuit precludes easy smartplug monitoring (>4kW) but I have a (small) AC unit (~800W peak) on a Wemo. This means I can compare Sense-native vs Sense-actual vs Wemo. That data is building to the point where I can drill into it and share.

  • Router/modem, workstation and mini server farm and PoE switch with LED lights and various PoE cameras and devices (variable) is all on an HS300 along with a paper shredder. I figure beyond the energy consumption, precise knowledge of shredding history is crucial to one’s state of mind. The PoE switch has per-port monitoring (10 mW resolution) which is handy to compare with the smartplug numbers. This also acts as an “Always On philosophical testbed”.

  • TV (OLED) + AppleTV + printer rack has another HS300. I keep a couple of spares on that for transient devices. I’m pretty sure one can disaggregate the OLED signature into what I was watching. One day perhaps we can correlate with the shredder (most shredding is from SpectrumTV offers).

  • I have an in-wall ventilation fan on a Wemo. That shifts air internally between the front & back of the apartment (crucial because I have a very modest AC unit). Ideally this needs to toggle on/off in coordination with the bathroom vent and/or the kitchen hood. That’s what the additional HS110s will get used for. e.g. when the 4-speed kitchen hood vent is set to 2 or above I want the room-to-room vent to go off. This is where some added Sense IFTTT triggers would be nice: If Device > X watts.

[Makes me wonder: HUE + Sense integration includes the handy on/off. Can we get an Auto on/off for smartplugs based on Sense data? Yes please ]

1 Like

I haven’t actually thought about the washing machine… is it something that’s hard to detect by Sense? I imagine it is. Different wash cycles will have different power usage signatures. Even within a wash cycle, the power usage will vary quite a bit over time.

What about a projector? It comes on and draws a consistent amount of power (~260W), but then doesn’t turn off for quite a while. Is this something Sense will be able to eventually detect, or is that a lost cause?

My usual rule of thumb is if it has a modern AC->DC power supply on it, and isn’t a common Samsung or LG LED TV (which are detected using NDI), Sense won’t find today. A modern power supply has energy storage (capacitor) plus some kind of variable switching that obscures the actual pattern of operation of the underlying electronics.

Is there any chance Sense can support additional brands of smart plugs? Like this one on Amazon has energy monitoring, and is very affordable. https://smile.amazon.com/Outlet-Compatible-Monitoring-Function-Required/dp/B079Q5W22B I already have a ton of smart plugs but not the specific ones that Sense accepts with energy monitoring.

I’ll let Sense folks answer from their perspective, but as a supporter of small companies I would hope that Sense focuses in on the most broadly deployed, supported and integratabtle smartplugs , not the cheapest ones. Every additional flavor requires added headcount to integrate, and more expensively, to support.

@kevin1 is corrected. We’re focused on trusted and widely deployed brands for the time being. It isn’t a simple task to add support for an additional smart device, so we need to be careful how those resources are allocated.

1 Like

I never thought of tracking washing machine as you are going to wear clean clothes or dirty, it has to be done. But now that you mention it, I think I will add one to convince my girlfriend to do fewer but larger loads.

I use an unsupported smart plug (i.e. cheaper because they don’t monitor power) to shut off my laptop computer (so it doesn’t keep charging the battery when I am not using). In fact, most my smart plugs don’t monitor power because I don’t care how much power they draw (i.e. I use LED lamps) or run a fan to reduce A/C usage and turn them off by voice using Echo when unneeded. In fact, I have them on a schedule so they cut off automatically at midnight just in case I forget.

Don’t see that much need for the power monitoring smart plugs because I figure they are not very accurate and there are few things that I would change the use of by knowing how much power they use. I can hook a power monitoring smart plug up for a few minutes to get a rough estimate of its power consumption to use in estimating its total contribution to utility bill, should I care.

Ground-truth usage patterns can be as useful as actual watts consumed. Sense gets better over time (aided by data input from smartplugs for one!) but until it is as reliable as a smartplug, the Sense+smartplug on/off tracking gives a lot of useful and reliable feedback. There’s also “Oh, my combo-washer/dryer just went in to dry mode” type feedback.

1 Like

Further to my previous response I wanted to demonstrate that smartplugs are indeed quite accurate.

I have 2 Sense monitors on my panel.

  • Sense #1 is on the Mains and is also monitoring a Wemo that I have a window Air Conditioner on [Blue in chart]
  • Sense #1 has also natively detected that Air Conditioner [Teal in chart]
  • Sense #2 has one of the Solar CTs on that same Air Conditioner’s dedicated circuit (the other Solar CT is unused). [Orange in chart]

The calibration on the Solar CT on Sense #2 is off … but when normalized for that you can see that the Wemo Insight is following the Sense ground-truth very well. See chart below.

The Sense native detection for now though, on my Air Conditioner, is playing catch-up and seems to only trigger with frequent AC cycles. @MaheshAtSense explains that here

2 Likes

I have smartplugs on a few of my mid-range power draws and it has been helpful:

  • My furnaces - I can see more than my furnace fan detections, especially in heating mode. Also a good proxy to look at AC detections during the summer.
  • My plug-in hybrid charger
  • My AV receiver - I actually caught one of the zones being on the other day and wasting 70W, even though the main zone was off.
  • My washer - even though it doesn’t change our washing behavior, it’s helpful in terms of seeing the whole picture in our house.
  • My kids’ gaming PCs - can spot when they leave them on and remotely cut power to them.

Got most of my HS110s when they were running at 12$ each.

1 Like

$12 each… wow! I got mine mostly for around $16 each and thought that was a decent deal. How did you pull that off?

Nice find.

I have a similar window on a UniFi PoE switch plugged into an HS300 socket … it’s mostly a testbed for PoE gear and I can see when I’ve left stuff plugged in (cameras and lights and whatnot) when I hadn’t intend to leave it powered.

Your Zone waste makes me wonder about ATMOS and other large-channel surround formats … Sense could potential track that. I guess you can see from your Zone usage when you were having pool parties.

Amazon had a few 2 pack for 24$ specials at various points in time. One was for Father’s Day a couple years back.

1 Like